Sunday, August 04, 2019

Weekend Diversion: All the hits

Time was, I waited eagerly for the new music charts to come out, first the ones put out by radio stations, then later the ones from Billboard. Looking back, I have no idea why I cared about them, but I know I liked seeing the songs I liked doing well. This “Weekend Diversion” post is made up of current hits, the Top 4 in New Zealand, minus one.

First up, the video above. Every once in awhile, a video comes along that makes us go, “WTF?!”, and that was my reaction when I first saw the video above, “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, "WTF?!" was precisely what I said (only not as initials alone…). I first saw it on our now defunct broadcast video music channel, and I’ll admit that I couldn’t quite figure it out. Watching it I was a bit like the people on the street in the opening shot.

I was surprised when the video went to Number One in the USA and other places, but the fact that it went on to become the song reigning at Number One on the Billboard pop chart for longer than any other song. That was as historic as it was unexpected. Even more, the fact that this was achieved by a young black gay man was simply astounding. Times have changed?

The song accomplished this, in part, because Billboard counts all remixes and versions when calculating chart position. The version that charted in New Zealand was a remix. This week the song is back up to Number Two here (it was Number Three last week), and has been on the NZ chart for 19 weeks.

Overall, the song went to Number One in Australia (6x Platinum), 3 in Canada, Number One in New Zealand (3x Platinum), the UK (Platinum), and the USA (3x Platinum). It also reached Number 19 on Billboard’s country chart—despite earlier being removed because it “didn’t fit the genre” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Town_Road#Billboard_genre_classification_controversy )

I may have originally been confused or sceptical by the song, but it IS catchy, and it grew on me. Plus, Lil Nas X is really endearing in the video. I wouldn't have noticed any of that if I hadn't had that "WTF?!" reaction at first.

Next, the Number One song in New Zealand this week, “SeƱorita” by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello:

Shawn was the subject of a “Weekend Diversion” post a year ago, but I’d never heard of Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello before this song, even though they’ve recorded together before. Both Mendes and Cabello are credited among the song's co-writers.

The song and video were released on June 21. So far, the song has reached Number One in Australia (Platinum), 2 in Canada (2x Platinum), Number One in New Zealand (Gold) and the UK (Silver), and Number 2 on the on Billboard “Hot 100”. It's been Number One in New Zealand for several weeks.

Finally this week, the Number Four song in New Zealand this week, "Beautiful People” by Ed Sheeran and Khalid:

My first impression of this song was that it covers much of the same thematic territory as, Sheeran’s song with Justin Bieber, “I Don’t Care”, which I shared in a “Weekend Diversion” post on July 14. And, having shared one of Sheeran's song so recently, I’d have been reluctant to share another so soon, were it not for its current chart position. But I wanted to share it because I think it’s the best performance by Khalid in ages.

I first heard of Khalid when he released his second single, “Young Dumb & Broke” [WATCH/LISTEN], released on February 2, 2017, a few days before his 19th birthday. I really liked that song—but not a whole lot of his songs since then. Because the defunct music video channel played his songs so much, I saw most of his videos over the past couple years, and not only did I not like most of them, some really annoyed me (especially ones that were visually similar to each other). In fact, at one point I thought about doing a “Weekend Diversion” post about how overrated I thought he was, in light of what he’d done the past couple years. But I don’t usually do negative posts, so I canned the idea. And then along came this song, and my faith in Khalid was restored, at least a bit. His vocals are kind of Tracy Chapmen-ish at points, but the important thing is that he doesn’t sleepwalk through the song, something I felt he was doing for most of his songs the past couple years.

So, when I heard the song when I listened to the NZ Top 40 Chart a couple weeks ago, I thought I might share this video. A post about the current top pop songs in New Zealand provided the perfect time to do that.

So far, the song has hit Number 4 in Australia (Gold), 6 in Canada (Gold), 2 in New Zealand, Number One in the UK, and Number 19 in the USA.

There is a reason this is the Top Four minus one, and it’s not merely that I prefer to share, ideally, only three videos. The reason is that the current Number Three song in New Zealand is “The Greatest” by New Zealand band Six60 (currently one of the biggest-ever NZ bands, at least, in this country). I’ve shared their videos twice, one in a 2018 post about the NZ Music Awards, and also on Day 8 of the series of posts I did for NZ Music Month back in 2014. But the reason I’m not sharing them this week is that they don’t have an actual music video, just an audio-only one [LISTEN]. Maybe I’ll share it later on if they do a music video, and if I like it enough.

• • •

That’s the end of this little trip through New Zealand’s most popular songs this week. Turns out, I actually still like following the charts. Some things really don’t change, I guess.

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